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How could we improve FTC for next year?

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  • How could we improve FTC for next year?

    I thought it would be good to make an idea thread to share ideas about what can happen to make FTC even better for both rookie and veteran teams. I think it would be unlikely to that FIRST will replace the Android control system, but ideas are welcome for improving what we have.

    Some ideas could be:
    • Training videos or documentation for programmers that completely cover Java for FTC use.
    • Extending Blocks editor to also support interpreted text programming, like JavaScript or Python or subset of this type of interpreted languages.
    • Adding a robot simulation option.
    • Reducing the number of USB connections by using a different communication protocol after PDM, for example adding an CAN motor controller instead of USB one (you can probably add an USB to CAN converter for now), or something to that affect. Try think of things that are backwards compatible.
    • Building a DS app that runs on a laptop, instead of another phone


    How can FTC library maintainers make life easier for you upgrading versions? What libraries do you want to see made? How would you like to install them?

    Are there any tools you want to see made?

  • #2
    -Reduced latency for sensor readings.
    -Reduced time for synchronous controller setting calls.
    -Provide an interface for ganged motor power/mode setting (at least on a single controller). This will reduce USB writes, help with previous point, and provide more even power changes.
    -A simulation for debugging without the bot would be a huge benefit. Numerous cycles are expended pushing code to robot controller, testing, and repeating - often only to see a crash for a null pointer or print format error - things that could easily be fleshed out with a simulation.
    -Change the small red text on black background for driver station error messages - nearly impossible for old guy mentors to see.

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    • #3
      -Reduced latency for sensor readings.
      -A simulation for debugging without the bot would be a huge benefit. Numerous cycles are expended pushing code to robot controller, testing, and repeating - often only to see a crash for a null pointer or print format error - things that could easily be fleshed out with a simulation.
      Yea, that would be nice and also
      • Less USB wires.

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      • #4
        One change that will already happen is the availability of some new motors for next season. Rev Robotics is supplying all of the hardware for the new First Global and the DC motors used in that kit will be FTC legal next year. I had a look at them at the South Super Regional and I really like the design. A 5mm hex output shaft can be passed completely through the motor. Within the next few weeks an announcement will be made regarding what if any other components from that system can be used in FTC.

        https://youtu.be/XIC_FxGQsmo?t=79

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        • #5
          Im an FRC programmer as well as an FTC one, and these are the primary issues I can see, as well as a suggested fix

          1. Sensitvity to Static
          - can be fixed with better cabling, diffrent connecters (IE CAN or PWM),
          - ground the feild
          - insert better static control into the base SDK
          2. lack of basic info for coding
          - add an example of a function class and how to implement it
          - improve software documentation
          3. perhaps create instructions for a good way to implement software updates for repos that are not direct forks, such as those used by teams with more then one programmer.

          Thank you for your time FIRST, if you chose to read this
          -MRB

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          • #6
            For anyone that hasn't seen, there will be a new option for controling your robot next season. The Rev Robotics Expansion Hub.

            http://firsttechchallenge.blogspot.com/
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FIa...ature=youtu.be
            http://firsttechchallenge.blogspot.c...-talk-rev.html
            2015 FTC World Champion - Valley X Robotics 2844 - Founding Memeber

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            • #7
              The new REV Robotics Expansion Hub looks really promising. I had started to develop something similar as shown in this blog post
              http://olliesworkshops.blogspot.com/...ontroller.html

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              • #8
                I am REALLY exited a bought next session, because we can now (unless the rules say otherwise...) use an LCD on the robot! Also the modules should be cheaper and they seem to be better than what we have now.

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                • #9
                  What's different with regards to the use of an LCD display? I didn't see any specific reference relating to this...

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 5294-jjkd View Post
                    What's different with regards to the use of an LCD display? I didn't see any specific reference relating to this...
                    The UART ports.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Inventer bots View Post

                      The UART ports.
                      Having serial ports is not a requirement for the implementation of an LCD display. I2C LCD displays are readily available, and should be no more difficult nor easier to implement on this expansion hub as compared to the MR CDIM. The gating factor here would be the current limitations on 'other electronics' which already preclude the use of such a display in competition. So, it would require a specific change to the existing rules to explicitly allow this kind of application.

                      Of course, such a display could certainly be useful in testing and debugging, even if never used in league play or competition. I did purchase a few I2C displays for this purpose, but the team never got around to implementing them.

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                      • #12
                        The resign I got exited a bought the UART ports is because I have a VEX EDR LCD that uses UART.

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                        • #13
                          Visited VEX at world yesterday. Their products are really nice. They have motors similar to Andy Mark's but with hex shaft and all accessories are hex shaft compatible. Nice!!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mikets View Post
                            Visited VEX at world yesterday. Their products are really nice. They have motors similar to Andy Mark's but with hex shaft and all accessories are hex shaft compatible. Nice!!
                            Surely you mean REV and their hex motor. As I mentioned above did you see the new motors as well? They will be FTC-legal.

                            I talked to them a bit in Houston and I really think we're going to see a big improvement over the MR stuff.

                            We made it to Houston for FRC. Didn't make it past super regional in FTC due to the same lighting issue with color sensors that caused problems in Houston.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mikets View Post
                              Visited VEX at world yesterday. Their products are really nice. They have motors similar to Andy Mark's but with hex shaft and all accessories are hex shaft compatible. Nice!!
                              VEX doesn't have any new parts besides the new competition elements. The REV motors and modules look nice.

                              Mlwilliams, did you watch the ftc competition at worlds?

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